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Monocular vs Binocular for Hunting: Which Is Better to Use?

Monocular vs Binocular for Hunting

I’ll admit, my eyesight can fail me sometimes, which results in wasted ammo and disappointment.

A hunter needs to track wild animals like they were bird watching and must hit them from afar like a military sniper.

Two devices on the market allow hunters to track their prey well: A pair of binoculars and a monocular.

But what sets these two optical devices apart? Which one is better for your needs?

Let’s find out as I pit monocular vs. binoculars for hunting and see what makes each better in certain situations.

Let’s find out which one of them is the better hunting companion!

What Is a Monocular?


This telescope-like optical device is known to the average person as “binoculars… but halved.”

While they are very similar, that’s not entirely the case. A monocular excels on its own merits.

A monocular has only ONE lens. It’s a single-lens device that allows users to see long-distance.

Despite being popular with hunters, hikers and the military, in particular, it’s an underrated piece of gear.

The version most used on the market is the night vision monocular.

Being able to see with proper magnification works doubly well during no-light operations or low-light conditions.


Monocular pros know that a top-notch monocular is invaluable in situations when you need to see the action from a distance fast.

A monocular works best when spotting or tracking moving targets at high speeds and needs you to whip your optic around to keep up.

Because of that, it’s one of my go-to pieces of equipment when birdwatching and hunting on the move!

It is compact, lightweight and easy to carry, giving you an image on par with binoculars with none of the bulk and heft.

It’s also much more AFFORDABLE to buy a monocular!

After all, you’re paying for half that of binoculars without sacrificing image quality.

Thanks to a similar objective lens, it gives you great focus and a sight picture comparable to sniper scopes.

An excellent monocular has a high zoom ability that only increases as the models increase in size. 

Even then, the average monocular will help you see what you need to see.

Night Vision Monoculars

Military forces swear by night vision monoculars because they gather in more light without ruining your natural eyesight.

In my experience, I’ve found it much easier to adjust to the darkness using only one eye.

Having only one objective lens, a monocular focuses on giving a clear view of a single point of interest.

Furthermore, its NARROWER field of view helps in rapid target acquisition. I can take down an animal from a mile away!

It allows the user to focus on their prey without the distractions that a wide field of view brings.

This helps troops quickly spot their objective and stow their gear away before moving.


Having only one eye to see makes it a pain to use over extended periods.

It is best used as a telescope, with users taking a quick peek into it, spotting and tracking moving targets, and moving on.

Low eye relief makes users prone to eye fatigue.

I’ve had to use a monocular for an entire day and went home with a strained eye. Needless to say, it was quite an unpleasant experience.

Though having less weight than binoculars, a monocular uses smaller lenses.

That and often low-powered magnification mean a smaller field of view and lower long-distance ability.

What Are Binoculars?


Binoculars are the gateway optic before young astronomers save up for their first telescope.

Before would-be hunters buy their first sniper scope, everyone starts with a pair of binoculars.

Traditional binoculars are optics that integrate two lenses and offer a clear field of view despite their high magnification options.

They come at various price points and binocular types.

Modern binoculars use roof prisms or Porro prisms, which dictates the shape of your binoculars because of how the lenses absorb light and feed it into the eyepiece.

The best binoculars work for almost EVERY occasion.

I’ve used them for sporting events, hunting, and outdoor sight-seeing, thanks to their objective lens and zoom power.


Some advantages of using binoculars are that many binoculars offer independent focus adjustment.

This feature allows users to adjust the focus of binoculars for EACH tube.

Having double the amount of vision works wonders, giving you more magnification options and a wider field of view than a monocular.

This allows you to see more at long distances.

As a result, I can use them over longer periods. Keeping both eyes open naturally helps reduce eye strain and increase your eyes’ ability to focus.

This ease of use is why binoculars are so prevalent!

As mentioned earlier, I’ve used them for pretty much anything because they’re incredibly easy on the eyes.

Night Vision Binoculars

Real night vision binoculars give you a CLEAR image, unlike monoculars that only have one objective lens and IR illuminator lens.

They allow users to scan their environment in extreme darkness for extended periods.

They’re the perfect tool to keep yourself hidden in position from targets while you get your scope ready.


I love keeping both my eyes open, but I don’t like the extra weight binoculars put on me, being twice a monocular in size.

There are compact binoculars available, but they are still more difficult to bring around and more unwieldy to use, keep, and deploy than a monocular.

Additionally, they are more expensive.

Having double the objective lens and padding of a monocular essentially means that buying many binoculars entails paying double the price.

Monocular vs Binoculars: Similar Features

Monocular vs Binoculars: Similar Features

A grey area exists where both these optics have much more in common than simply helping you see across extreme distances.

#1 Magnification Levels

The best monocular and binoculars have comparable zoom levels.

Both optics deal in medium to high-level amplification ranging from 3-9x on the low-end to the 6-18x military scale high-end.

While both can produce similar zoom, binoculars making consistently higher magnifications because of their larger lens capacity is par for the course between them.

#2 Clear Focus

Both provide a clear focus and allow users to see out of their binoculars and optics clearly.

I never had to worry about getting dizzy or losing track of my mark!

Shaking and blurriness are huge pains, especially when you need to pan fast when stalking prey or following birds.

A good optic smoothens the ride and allows the image to remain clear.

I’ve found them especially useful at night, as monos and binos with night vision produce high-quality images despite the darkness.

#3 Objective Lens

You can pick either a binocular or a monocular, and both promise one thing: A HIGH-QUALITY lens.

There’s no use looking through the tubes if there’s no picture, after all.

Objective lenses gather light in and allow visuals to be displayed to the user through the eyepiece.

The better or wider the lens, the more light it gathers, giving you better views.

Monocular vs Binoculars: Key Differences

This wouldn’t be much of a match-up if we didn’t discuss what makes these two kinds of optics distinct from each other.

Monocular vs Binoculars: Key Differences

#1 Number of Lenses

The most obvious, in-your-face difference is the number of lenses each possesses.

As the name implies, binoculars possess two, while a monocular only has one.

This impacts everything from how deep the field of view is to how much magnification it can handle.

It even impacts how heavy and how expensive your devices will be.

Having more lenses means you can have split focus settings for each eye and create more depth.

Meanwhile, having a monocular means you don’t hurt your eyes in night conditions.

#2 Field of View

Another key difference between binoculars and monoculars is how wide you can see out of your device.

Having twice as many lenses ensures a WIDER field of view with binoculars.

Both are equally matched at close focus distances, where your target isn’t extravagantly far.

If your target is at a distance, keeping track of it over long periods goes to binoculars.

#3 Comfort

A monocular’s compact package has a clear size advantage over binoculars twice the size.

A monocular can be stored anywhere, even slung around the neck for easy access.

Binoculars are heavy, unwieldy at times, and can become tiring to carry and bring out given enough time.

It’s more pleasant to deploy a monocular and then keep it. As for comfort, binoculars do have the advantage of eye usage.

It’s less painful to use them over long periods because they allow you to keep both eyes open and focus equally.

What to Consider When Choosing Between Monocular and Binoculars

While we’ve laid out the similarities and differences between a monocular vs. binocular, you need to consider a few key factors before buying the best optical device for you.

1. Magnification

Magnification icon

Magnification levels relate to how close an object looks through an optic compared to the naked eye.

The HIGHER magnification you need, the FARTHER away an object is.

Your optics are very similar in terms of amplification settings. They’re neck and neck when it comes to zoom numbers.

The difference comes down to HOW LONG you can look.

At higher magnifications, binoculars provide better eye relief, allowing you to look through them for more sustained periods without straining your eyes.

2. Image Quality

Image Quality icon

Having clear images for optics that utilize the user’s vision is everything.

A good monocular or binoculars have effective light-gathering capabilities even in low light situations.

A monocular also comes with an image stabilizer, preventing shaking as you pan across your landscape.

Binoculars provide a wider field of view, giving you more out of what you see.

If your binoculars remain fog proof, and your monocular provides clear images even in the dark, that’s how you can see the bigger picture.

3. Lens Clarity

Lens Clarity icon

Both optics have similar lens construction.

It would be best to buy a device with ultra-clear glass for unobstructed vision and eye relief. After all, no one likes looking through scuffed glass.

Quality lenses ensure a fog-proof user experience, and fully coating them eliminates glare.

Excellent objective lenses effectively funnel light into the eyepiece, giving a clearer picture.

4. Pricing

Pricing icon

I’ve found better price points with a monocular than a binocular.

Though both optics have affordable options, a monocular is cheaper than similar high-quality binoculars.

Despite this, binoculars are more widely accepted and have a wider variety of options to choose from. Availability may still go to binoculars.

5. Ergonomics

Ergonomics icon

Your EXPERIENCE using an optic may be an even more decisive factor than what you’re using it for.

Your purchase decision may come down to how the device feels in your hands.

For example, a monocular has a clear advantage for portability and ease of use. I’ve let mine hang loose from a lanyard! I’ve even shoved it in my cargo pants pocket.

Binoculars, however, provide a more natural feeling, keeping both eyes open. 

You dissipate eye strain and gain better depth perception. It makes for a less irritating experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Have any questions on a specific kind of optic? Looking for specific products to take to the field?

Don’t worry, optic users. I’m here to help.

What Is the Advantage of a Monocular Over Binoculars?

For starters, a monocular only needs ONE eye to see through, making it more convenient to use with only one eye than a binocular.

It is also smaller and way less bulky, being less than half the size of a binocular.

It’s easy to shove into a pocket and carry around with the rest of your hunting gear. It’s easier to whip out as well for a quick spot.

Lastly, a monocular is more budget-friendly than a binocular.

Though a night vision monocular tends to get pricey, they are generally more affordable than double-lens binoculars.

What Magnification Is Best for Hunting?

To hunt deer or elk, you would need at least 3-9x magnification with a 40mm objective lens for a daytime target.

These numbers are common for a target that’s less than 100-200 yards away.

While that is severely underpowered for military sniper scopes (aiming above 1000 yards), the more long-range game will require 6-18x amplification.

Which Is the Best Night Vision Monocular?

Luna Optics G-3 Digital Monocular

Arguably the best night vision monocular optic on the market right now is the Luna Optics G-3 Digital Monocular.

It comes with 6-36x magnification and a 50 mm objective lens, on par with high-quality sniper scopes.

It also doubles as an excellent HD video camera, recording in Blu-ray quality.

The G-3 has excellent nighttime, equipped with an ultra-powerful IR Illuminator, giving you perfect infra-red viewing up to 400 meters in pitch dark.

This Luna Optics monocular has consistently outranked competitors list after list due to its innovative, high-tech package, giving you perfect far sight day and night.

Final Verdict: Which Should You Use for Hunting?

There may be no clear winner in the battle between monocular vs. binoculars.

A few key takeaways from this match-up are that both optics have high-quality lenses that allow you to see across distances.

They have similar magnification and overlapping functions.

In terms of quality ratio, a MONOCULAR outmatches in portability, pricing, and ease of use, making for quick sightings and better night vision capabilities.

BINOCULARS, meanwhile, excel in reducing eye fatigue, giving a wider field of view and are more comfortable on the eyes.

In the end, it’s better to pick based on where you will use them.

I would personally recommend binoculars for sporting events, stationary watching, and scanning an environment.

On the other hand, some of my go-to applications of a monocular include birdwatching and doing rapid checks.


What matters most is that you find the optic that gives you the best view of your target without hurting your eyes or weighing you down.

It should work for you and help you see FAR!

Overall, the choice of the best optic is entirely up to you. You may need a binocular one day and a monocular the next.

The important thing is to evaluate YOUR needs and choose accordingly.

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